Stopping Is Going

At six thirty this morning I sat outside on the front porch, slap down on concrete like a block of ice, the cold worming through fleece and into my skin. It was a crisp forty, and the chill settled on my nose and the backs of my hands, my palms warmed by coffee in a cup that said FIRST YOU–the other words in the phrase long since faded by repeat visits to the dishwater: “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Change the Rules.” Steam rose from the coffee in a spiral, and a hint of warmth brushed against my cheek. I was wrapped in the hum of traffic moving up and down Hillsboro Road, four blocks east. The incessant whir of cars was a kind of silence, its constant drone solace that there was a world of people out there, moving and going and crossing paths, while I was alone, left to my thoughts, in solitude in fading darkness. From over in Clarendon, a triple hoot of an owl pinched the silence. Then again. I watched the sky lighten in the east and all things before me take shape. A three-quarters moon was directly above, shining down on the frosty nandinas along the sidewalk, giving their leaves depth and texture. They looked sculpted in the moonlight, and sugar-coated. Their new growth stuck out here and there, awry, like the hair of a little boy just out of bed.

I like the idea of FIRST YOU, as on my cup, first words my eyes fall upon in the morning. I’ve always been an early riser, the first one up in my household. I used to sit in silence for a little while–doing nothing, but drinking coffee, watching the world wake up, going inward, observing, thinking, feeling. I need to return to some of that.

Silence leads to meditation, to knowing oneself and pondering spiritual things, letting them be present and urgent. It clarifies and motivates. The reason for stopping and sitting in silence is going.

I left my post with a cold butt and a clear head.